Do Diet and Exercise Really Help Menopause Symptoms?
You’ve heard it a million times if you’ve heard it once: Diet and exercise fix everything. So, it’s no surprise then that many healthcare professionals recommend a change in diet and moderate exercise to help women cope with menopause symptoms. But does it really work?
According to one of my favorite hormone health gurus, Dr. C.W. Randolph, author of the book, From Belly Fat to Belly Flat: How Hormones are Adding Inches to Your Waist and Subtracting Years from Your Life, the answer is yes. A healthy diet and exercise absolutely can help balance your hormones and restore sanity during menopause.
Foods that Flush Estrogen
For a lot of women, estrogen dominance is the culprit behind many of the unpleasant symptoms of menopause. Raging mood swings, depression, irritability, bloating, sore and tender breasts, and unwanted weight gain, are all the result of excess estrogen and too little progesterone. While hormone therapy is definitely an option to help rebalance your hormones, eating the right combination of foods will actually flush excess estrogen from your body.
According to Dr. Randolph, cruciferous vegetables, citrus fruits, insoluble fiber, and lignans are four food groups which work with your body to naturally flush and decrease excess estrogen levels. Spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage, for example, contain a phytonutrient called indole-3-carbinaol (I3C), which has been shown to act as a catalyst to remove excess estrogen from the body.
Oranges, grapefruit, and tangerines contain a substance called d-Limonene, which promotes the detoxification of estrogen. Oatmeal, oat bran, pears, and strawberries actually bind to estrogen receptors in your body, which reduces estrogen activity on a cellular level. Flaxseed and sesame seeds also have an estrogen binding activity in the body as well.
It’s Not as Difficult as You May Think
It can feel like a daunting task trying to sort through this resource or that resource to help you eat the right foods during menopause. There are definitely countless books on the market which are excellent resources, and any one of them would be a good choice.
I personally like Dr. Randolph’s book because it is so easy to read, easy to understand, and more importantly, easy to implement. You don’t need to go any further than your local grocery store aisle to find the foods he suggests.
Exercise is a No-Brainer
It’s a fact: exercise helps reduce stress. During perimenopause, a lot of women suffer from stress hormones which become out of balance, in addition to estrogen and progesterone imbalance. Exercise is an excellent way to reduce stress and help balance your stress hormones, lift your spirits, and elevate your mood.
If you exercise outside, the exposure to sunlight also helps to reset your body’s circadian rhythms, which in turn, affects sleep cycles, healthy hormone release, and other important body functions.
For many women, and I count myself among them, vigorous walking for a minimum of 30-minutes per day is all you need to feel more positive, energized, and able to sleep well in the evening. Will exercise fix all of your perimenopause symptoms? No, it will not. But, it will help you cope better and bring some measure of relief.
A Final Word of Caution
Many women suffer with adrenal fatigue in perimenopause. If you are suffering with extreme exhaustion and burn-out, and do not know why, you may have adrenal fatigue. Before you begin any exercise program, please consult your physician to have your adrenal function tested. In many cases exercise can and does make the exhaustion and crashing fatigue associated with adrenal fatigue worse.
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women’s health and a women’s freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.